Jerusalem (Mar. 13)
Spokesmen for the Jewish National Council, headed by President Isaac Ben Zvi, testified today before the Anglo-American inquiry committee, stressing the Jewish peoples’ historic connection with Palestine and urging the establishment of a Jewish state here.
Dr. Mordecai Eliash, a ranking member of the Council, told the committee that Jews did not threaten Arab rights in Palestine, but, on the contrary, were themselves subjected to onerous land and immigration restrictions while their youth was jailed. Jews were condemned to being a permanent minority, he emphasized.
Both he and David Remez, secretary-general of the Council, rejected a suggestion by Co-chairman Joseph Hutcheson that, perhaps, the Palestine problem might be solved by partition or creation of Arab-Jewish parity. They asserted that Jews were a minority everywhere in the world, and, therefore, it was only just that they be a majority “in one corner of the world.”
The Council witnesses, who took up the entire afternoon session, were questioned sharply concerning allegations that the Zionists were hindering Jews from leaving Palestine. They vigorously denied the charges. Ben Zvi spoke of the Jews’ tie to Palestine, and advocated a “treaty of friendship” with the Arabs.
AGUDAS ISRAEL DOES NOT WEST JEWISH STATE, WITNESS SAYS
Speaking for the Orthodox Jews of Palestine, Dr. Isaac Bruer and Rabbi Moshe Blau, of the Agudas Israel, declared that the Jews were deprived of Palestine 2,000 years ago by violence. They said that the Agudas Israel did not see the problem of Palestine as one of world politics or power politics between Arabs and Jews, but as a problem of law, and emphasized that the Jewish people throughout the world were united in the demand for Palestine.
Dr. Bruer stressed that his organization was not interested in the establishment of a Jewish state, but in increased immigration of Jews into Palestine. “We believe that sovereignty is the rock of the trouble,” he added. “Our aim is a political regime guaranteeing the opening of the gates of Palestine and unrestricted development. We also ask that control of immigration be given to the Jewish Agency, and that we have a voice in the Agency.”
In reply to questions, Dr. Bruer emphasized that the Agudas Israel believed that all Jews in Europe–religious and non-religious–should be allowed to enter Palestine, but was opposed to use of force for political ends. He pointed out, however, that the Jews could not be expected to stand by and allow themselves to be murdered, as they were in 1936, “when the Government was unable to protect us.”
SITUATION OF 1, 000,000 SEPHARDIC JEWS REPORTED TO COMMITTEE
The situation of the 1,000,000 Sephardic Jews living in the Middle East was reported to the committee by David Abulafia and Itzhak Abbadi, who stressed the “absolute identification” of the Sephardic Jews with the Zionist cause.
Abulafia said that although the situation of the Oriental Jews living in the Middle Eastern countries was growing more precarious, they believed that they could help bring about an understanding between the Arabs and the Jews, because of “their general Oriental outlook.” This will be possible, however, only if a Jewish state is established in Palestine, he added.
Abbadi urged the committee to inquire into the conditions of the Jews in the Arab countries. To which American chairman Joseph Hutcheson replied: “I suppose you want us to eliminate Europe from our terms of reference and make it read as you wish.” Abbadi answered: “No sir, we only feel that you are not getting a complete picture of the situation if you fail to inquire into the situation of the Jews under the Arabs.”
He charged that “fanatic nationalism” in the Middle East was causing a rise in anti-Semitism as well as anti-foreign feelings. In reply to Richard Crossman, he said that Zionism was only one of the factors causing the increased anti-Semitism.
Both Sephardic witnesses said that they were certain that when the committee made investigations in the Middle East, the Jews in those countries would fear to speak frankly before it. They asked to be excused from divulging the source of their information concerning the discrimination against Jews in Arab countries.
Commenting on their testimony, Lord Morrison asked them whether they wanted the committee to invite Jews from bombed areas of East London to come to Palestine because “they are uncomfortable.”
DR. MAGNES TESTIFIES TODAY; COMMITTEE WILL RECESS
At tomorrow’s hearings, the Ichud group, which favor creation of an Arab-Jewish bi-national state in Palestine, will be heard. Chief spokesman for the Ichud will be Dr. Judah L. Magnes, president of the Hebrew University. Prof. Martin Buber and Moshe Smilansky will also testify.
The committee will recess at the conclusion of tomorrow’s session until March 22, at which time the full committee will resume hearings for two days. The body may split up into three sub-committees at that time in order to enable it to hear all those who have asked to appear. During the recess the members will tour the country.